December 23, 2010

State Health Department Reports Possible Salmonella Outbreak

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has been notified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of a possible Salmonella outbreak connected with contaminated alfalfa sprouts. DHSS has received reports of 16 Missouri residents becoming ill from the same strain of Salmonella, with cases occurring in Franklin, St. Charles, Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Louis Counties, and in Kansas City. The department is investigating further to determine if the cases are connected.

In the course of this ongoing multi-state investigation, alfalfa sprouts distributed in Illinois have been identified as the likely source of the illness. DHSS does not believe that all alfalfa sprouts are affected.

Symptoms of salmonellosis (illness caused by Salmonella bacteria) include diarrhea, vomiting, fever and/or stomach cramps. Salmonellosis usually develops within six to 72 hours after a consumer’s exposure to Salmonella bacteria and generally lasts three to seven days. Salmonella bacteria can be transmitted from person to person. Some individuals who are infected may have no symptoms at all but may still transmit the Salmonella bacteria to others. The spread of Salmonella from person to person may be avoided by careful hand washing with soap and water, particularly after using the restroom.

Consumers who may experience the symptoms described above should consult a health care provider and discuss the possibility of Salmonella infection, or other causes of such symptoms. If salmonellosis is diagnosed, should contact their local health department to report the condition.

Salmonella Prevention

  • Cook poultry, ground beef, and eggs thoroughly. Do not eat or drink foods containing raw eggs, or raw (unpasteurized) milk.
  • If you are served undercooked meat, poultry or eggs in a restaurant, don't hesitate to send it back to the kitchen for further cooking.
  • Wash hands, kitchen work surfaces, and utensils with soap and water immediately after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry.
  • Be particularly careful with foods prepared for infants, the elderly, and persons with immune system problems.
  • Wash hands with soap after handling reptiles, birds, or baby chicks, and after contact with pet feces.
  • Avoid direct or even indirect contact between reptiles (turtles, iguanas, other lizards, snakes) and infants or immunocompromised persons.
  • Don't work with raw poultry or meat and an infant (e.g., feeding, changing diaper) at the same time.
  • Mother's milk is the safest food for young infants. Breastfeeding helps prevent salmonellosis and many other health problems.

For more information about salmonellosis contact your local public health agency or check the CDC's site for more information.